Sunday, January 13, 2013
David Bowie and Momus' "Where Are We Now?"
A mere song perhaps, but nevertheless it was the shot that was heard all over the world. David Bowie made an surprise announcement on his birthday about not only a new song, but also a new video and the announcement of a new album called "The Next Day." The single "Where We Are Now"" strikes me as one of the great Bowie songs. One, because of Bowie's performance of that song, but also the remarkable version that was made within hours of its release by Momus. And as much as I love the Bowie original, the Momus version hits me quite hard.
But back to the original, Bowie's concept of releasing this song is uber-special. Genius-like. I and the world pretty much accepted his retirement, and I truly thought that there was zero possibility of him doing another 'new' album. But then on his birthday (of all days) he announces not only a new single, but the album with the song list, and ...even the album cover
When I saw this, I thought 'oh god this is too good.' I think this album cover will be up there with Sgt Pepper, Elvis' first RCA album, Never Mind The Bullocks, etc. and etc. A classic. At the age of 66, Bowie is doing something genius like. He has his groove and moment back! And then there is his video
The perfect storm. A piece of work that has tons of Bowie's past as a reference. One can study this forever and perhaps what is there is something that leads to his past (besides the German/Low reference). But nevertheless, we have the single "Where Are We Now" which is superb and so subjective Bowie, and the beauty of the song is him announcing a certain amount of feelings that we 'know' his part of his history. Therefore we have an immediate reaction to this song, knowing that there was no new Bowie material for the past ten years, and accepting the fact that this was that. But no, the surprise of it all was 'wow,' and then hearing something that sounded so personal as the first piece of music from Bowie in ten (exactly) years - no, a statement in fact - was incredible. And to be honest the people who will be effected the most are from my generation - and we fell in love again with the Bowie myth, his taste, and just the great talent that he is.
The beauty of this song is in the melody, but the added textures (and pop is all about the extras) brings it to a specific time in one's life - and for those who are long-term Bowie fans (which is basically my social group, and those who are not, I have no interest in you). The song lists specific spaces that Bowie has a strong feeling for. Not people, but locations that is almost his Proust eating a cookie feeling. And I feel strongly for this song lyrically wise, because I too have a strong feeling of location or placement more then people. The 'dead' you feel the traces but you see the locations. And the locations survive or exist beyond the 'dead.' And that's the sad beauty of "Where We Are Now?"
Within hours of Bowie's surprise release, Momus put his version of the song up on YouTube:
i suspect Momus as being in my family of Bowie fanatics, but his cover goes beyond the song itself, and lands right in Bowie's lap. He takes it to a more personal level, and one can think that he was totally moved when he heard the original version, and therefore here's his love letter to not only Bowie, but acknowledging the greatness of the song and reacting to it. And that he does well. His version of
"Where We Are Now?'" is amazing.
And we should acknowledge the Associates also released a Bowie song the same day of the master's release.
The tradition goes on...